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COTE D’ IVOIRE, WORTHY CHAMPIONS OF AFRICA

COTE D’ IVOIRE, WORTHY CHAMPIONS OF AFRICA

Cote d’Ivoire! They crept from the back like the millipede.  Slowly, harmlessly and rarely noticed, the boys ascended the African Cup of nations’ ladder.  Suddenly, they entered the big arena- the grand finale! And once there, the Elephants, as their countryman chose to call them, were unstoppable.

Ghana, unlike the Ivorians, stamped their presence in the tournament right from the group stages.  Highly tipped to win this version of this competition, the Black Stars were on everybody’s lips as possible champions.

Their performance as the completion ran to its conclusive end was hugely heart-warming.  They were wiping every team silly, including host country, Equatorial Guinea whom they humbled 3  0.  There was no doubt that the boys of the former Gold Coast showed the traits of champions.

the game eventually brought both countries face to face in a   grand finale of the African nation’s cup that climaxed in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.   The final match of the last cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea was a big expose for African football.

Ghana started well from home! While Nigeria for instance, was grapping with the issue of appointing a coach for the Super Eagles, Ghana went to Israel and duly snatched former Chelsea manager, Avram Grant to guide the Black Stars to Equatorial Guinea.  The country’s decision was emphatic: “ Avram Grant would have his contract favourably reviewed if he did well in Equatorial Guinea!”

That was the extent of seriousness exhibited by the country through the Ghana Football Federation. Although Grant had a few weeks to prepare the Black Stars to the nation’s cup, Ghana’s performance in that competition has shown the resilience enshrined in the life style of t he average Ghanaian especially in charting any course that will advance the image of his country.

At Equatorial Guinea, the least player in the Ghanaian squad believed that Ghana would win and actually worked hard to achieve that victory.

West Africa was particularly proud. Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire belonged to it. The ‘samba’ brand of football, reminiscent of people of this area, was exhibited to the fullest in that encounter.

At full time, it was clear that both countries were masters of the entertainment for which football is known in this part of Africa. Nobody was ahead.  And it remained so until the penalty shoot-outs.

Today, Cote d’Ivoire are champions.  They are champions because somebody must win.  The truth is that victory in this edition of the African cup of Nations belongs to West African football.  Both Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana must be proud of this.  So should other West African nations who did not participate in this edition.  It did not matter that Cote d’Ivoire took the cup.

What matters is that both Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana took West African football to the centre stage and this is very pleasant.  It must be remembered that other regions of Africa were strongly represented at the tournament in Equatorial Guinea.  The Southern Africa brought their best in the name of South Africa.  Algeria and Tunisia wore the garb of the North while the Congos (Congo Brazzaville and DR Congo)  flew the flag of the central African.

Before the tournament went off the ground, general opinion gave the trophy to North Africa, to Algeria.  Judging from the unique, superlative performances of the Algeria team at the last world cup competition in Brazil last year, Algeria was hands and feet above all the other African countries who went to Equatorial Guinea.  Their performance at that mundial was heartwarming.  Going Equatorial Guinea with that the same squad easily convinced football watcher that the miner of the trophy was certainly going to be Algeria!

Thanks to Cote d’Ivoire.  And Ghana! West Africa is proud.  The game really belongs to this region

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